Clarke’s typology of American assassins

  • Type I assassins view their acts as a probable sacrifice of self for a political ideal.
  • Type II assassins are persons with overwhelming and aggressive egocentric needs for acceptance, recognition, and status.
  • Type III assassins are psychopaths (or sociopaths) who believe that the condition of their lives is so intolerably meaningless and without purpose that destruction of society and themselves is desirable for its own sake.
  • Type IV assassins are characterized by severe emotional and cognitive distortions that are expressed in hallucinations and delusions of persecution and/or grandeur. As a rule, their acts are mystically “divinely” inspired—in a word, irrational or insane.

— Clarke JW: American Assassins: The Darker Side of Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982

Five descriptive categories of Presidential stalkers or assassins

1. Resentful
2. Pathologically obsessed
3. Infamy seeker
4. Intimacy seeker
5a. Nuisance
5b. Attention seeker

— Robert T. M. Phillips, MD, PhD. Assessing Presidential Stalkers and Assassins. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 34:2:154-164 (2006)

categories #2: morbid edition

It all comes back to sex and death, so here is the appropriate second installment, inspired by this afternoon’s romp through the bibliography of Bowker, Geoffrey C. & Star, Susan Leigh. (1999) “Sorting things out: Classification and its consequences.” MIT Press:

G Kroemer, W S El-Deiry, P Golstein, M E Peter, D Vaux, P Vandenabeele, B Zhivotovsky, M V Blagosklonny, W Malorni, R A Knight, M Piacentini, S Nagata and G Melino. (2005) Classification of cell death: recommendations of the Nomenclature Committee on Cell Death. Cell Death and Differentiation (2005) 12, 1463–1467. doi:10.1038/sj.cdd.4401724

When to classify a cell as dead?

…when any of the following molecular or morphological criteria are met: (1) the cell has lost the integrity of the plasma membrane, as defined by vital dyes in vitro; (2) the cell including its nucleus has undergone complete fragmentation into discrete bodies (which are frequently referred to as ‘apoptotic bodies’); and/or (3) its corpse (or its fragments) have been engulfed by an adjacent cell in vivo. Thus, ‘dead cells’ would be different from bona fide ‘dying cells’ that are in the process of cell death, which can occur through a variety of different pathways (see below). Moreover, cells whose cell cycle is arrested (as it occurs in senescence) would be considered as alive and the expression ‘replicative cell death’ (which alludes to the loss of the clonogenic capacity) should be avoided.

Kinds of cell death:

  • apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Necrosis/oncosis
  • Mitotic catastrophe (my favorite)
  • Anoikis
  • Excitotoxicity (my second favorite)
  • Wallerian degeneration
  • Cornification


Douglas, John E.; Burgess, Ann W.; Burgess, Allen G. & Ressler, Robert K. (eds.) (2006) Crime Classification Manual: A Standard System for Investigating and Classifying Violent Crimes. Wiley.


Dindo, Daniel; Demartines, Nicolas & Clavien, Pierre–Alain. (2004) “Classification of Surgical Complications: A New Proposal With Evaluation in a Cohort of 6336 Patients and Results of a Survey.” Annals of Surgery 240(2): 205-213.

Furthermore, death is the worst complication for a physician and a patient, but may be associated with low cost, thus decreasing the impact of cost analyses for outcome research. For these reasons, the payer’s perspective cannot be included in such classification system, and we would argue that it should be computed and presented separately.


Rees, Gethin (2007) Culture and classification in the C.S.I. lab (review of Stefan Timmermans, Postmortem: How medical examiners explain suspicious deaths. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006). Metascience 16:565-569.

The pathologist has an altruistic role in determining the cause of death; and by reducing individual lives to pathological categories they provide information to public health bodies, which, in turn, provide hope that these types of death can be limited or avoided in future. Of course, the pathologist is not simply passive in determining which classification a death should be labelled: they actively create the boundaries of each category and actively determine what constitutes a suicide, homicide, etc.


Gordijn, S. J.; Korteweg, F. J.; Erwich, Jan Jaap H.M.; Holm, J. P.; van Diem, M. T.; Bergman, K. A. & Timmer, A. (2009) A multilayered approach for the analysis of perinatal mortality using different classification systems. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. (in press)


A couple of notes:

1. The word “thrombosis” gives me the heebie-jeebies.

2. Let’s start a Nomenclature Committee for Information/Library Science. It will have two initial subcommittees: (1) Subcommittee Against Terrible Neologisms; and (2) Subcommittee For Defining What You Mean By the Terms You Use.

new feature.

With this post, I announce a new feature of this blog.

No, it is not posting more than once every two weeks, or posting anything of real substance.

I will begin collecting small scale category/classification schemes that I find amusing or interesting.*

A prize to start the collection… from a story about an MLA conference panel about sex at the MLA conference** that Simon tweeted:***

Many presenters at the MLA use categorization to make their points, and this session was no exception. Jennifer Drouin, an assistant professor of English and women’s studies at Allegheny College, argued that there are eight forms of conference sex (although she noted that some may count additional forms for each of the eight when the partners cross disciplinary, institutional or tenure-track/non-tenure track, or superstar/average academic boundaries).

1. “Conference quickies” for gay male scholars to meet gay men at local bars.

2. “Down low” sex by closeted academics taking advantage of being away from home and in a big city.

3. “Bi-curious” experimentation by “nerdy academics trying to be more hip” (at least at the MLA, where queer studies is hip). This “increases one’s subversiveness” without much risk, she said.

4. The “conference sex get out of jail free” card that attendees (figuratively) trade with academic partners, permitting each to be free at their respective meetings. This freedom tends to take place at large conferences like the MLA, which are “more conducive” to anonymous encounters, Drouin said.

5. “Ongoing flirtations over a series of conferences, possibly over several years” that turn into conference sex. Drouin said this is more common in sub-field conferences, where academics are more certain of seeing one another from year to year if their meetings are “must attend” conferences.

6. “Conference sex as social networking,” where academics are introduced to other academics at receptions and one thing leads to another.

7. “Career building sex,” which generally crosses lines of academic rank. While Drouin said that this form of sex “may be ethically questionable,” she quipped that this type of sex “can lead to increased publication possibilities” or simply a higher profile as the less famous partner tags along to receptions.

8. And last but not least — and this was the surprise of the list: “monogamous sex among academic couples.” Drouin noted that the academic job market is so tight these days that many academics can’t live in the same cities with their partners. While many colleges try to help dual career couples, this isn’t always possible, and is particularly difficult for gay and lesbian couples, since not every college will even take their couple status seriously enough to try to find jobs for partners. So these long distance academic couples, gay and straight, tenured and adjuncts, must take the best academic positions they can, and unite at academic conferences. “The very fucked-upness of the profession leads to conference fucking,” Drouin said.

Sad, sad, sad…

The comfort is that, much like the job market in LIS is not much like the job market in the humanities, my (albeit limited) experience has been that our conferences aren’t much like MLA.

And if I’m wrong, don’t correct me. I like this illusion. Seriously.

* Ok, so this probably doesn’t really count as a new new feature, given that I’ve been posting interesting or amusing subject headings and classes on this blog for ages.

** How meta! We like meta around these parts.

*** Will I ever be able to talk about Twitter without a smirk? Maybe one day it will not seem ridiculous to talk about tweeple tweeting. I mean, circa 1999 or so, “Google” sounded pretty ridiculous, right?